Kampot

Why do they call it Kampot pepper when it’s actually mostly grown closer to Kep?So when I was motorcycling around Kep, it did cross my mind to look for the pepper plantations famous to the region, but I thought to myself, “Nah, I’ll check them out when I’m in Kampot. They ought to be closer there, since it is called ‘Kampot Pepper’ after all”. Turns out I was wrong, and when I arrived a Kampot, juat about a short hour’s ride westwards from Kep, I found out Kampot pepper is mostly grown near Kep! I guess I still could have made the trip back east, but managed to occupy myself nonetheless with some of the other sights. I haven’t seen all that much of Cambodia yet, but Kampot has so far been my favourite place here, and it ranks pretty high too on the list of all the places I’ve covered the past six months or so. There’s really nothing specifically special about the place that I could say outright. Nothing particularly spectacular to see either. But LP was spot on when it described Kampot not as a place to see, but to feel.

 

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The Kampot/ Kep provinces are famous for both their salt and pepper.
It’s yet another relatively lazy riverside town, but there’s something about the place that sets it apart from say, Mawlamyine in Myanmar, Savannakhet in Laos, or the Mekong Delta area in Vietnam. Maybe it’s the laid-back vibe, the atmospheric guesthouses, restaurants and cafes; or the genuinely friendly and unaggressive locals, who don’t seem out to merely wring a fast buck from the next foreigner they come across. It hasn’t  (yet) become a contrived, pretentious tourist destination. Yes there are foreigners, and you see them almost every corner you turn in town, but the ones here seem to be either long-term stayers, or the independent backpacking couples. No busloads of speed-sight-seeing package tourists here, thankfully.
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And heading just a couple of kilometres outside the main town, the foreigners rapidly peeter out, and a seemingly real picture of Cambodia starts to show, against the backdrop of the sometimes simply magnificent countryside.I’d read that Kampot has been described by some as the new Battambang, which I haven’t been to yet, so I can’t comment on that. But whatever the case, maybe Kampot has arrived at a sweet spot in time where it seems to have attained just the right level of development, without yet sacrificing too much of the authenticity that fussy travellers crave. How long it will remain in this sweet spot in the face of the vicissitudes of fickle travellers, who knows? But I’m sure glad I’ve seen it now…
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